I’ll have two anniversaries this month! The first and longest-running is Jan. 17, which this year marks 42 years of marriage! It has been a good run so far – I think we’ll just keep going! “For richer – for poorer”, so where’s the “richer” been? “For better – for worse”, it’s mostly gotten better through the years! “In sickness and in health” – we’ve both been mostly healthy until recently. And that brings me to the second anniversary.
Two years ago on Jan. 19, I walked into our local hospital with upper chest pains. It didn’t seem too serious, but enough so to have it checked out. Tests showed something amiss with my heart and blood pressure, so I was sent on to a bigger, better-for-heart-treatment hospital. A heart cath the next day showed multiple blocks in a few arteries. I had had no heart attack as yet, but three days later I underwent a triple bypass!
These past two years have been a whirlwind! I think they may have been the busiest two years of my life! They were filled with exercise, increased travels, and increased work load – both physically and spiritually (I am a minister and a writer).
I am quite sure that when I got married, I was not ready for all that we would experience over the next 42 years! No one could be. I am equally sure now, that I would not have been able to do all that I needed to do these past two years, if not for the bypass. Many thought at first that perhaps the heart thing was God’s way of slowing me down for health reasons. Turned out, He was fixing me up in order for me to do even more!
I think maybe that was what the marriage was, too! He was fixing me up in order for me to do even more! You know – two become one… two heads are better than one… there is power in numbers… strength in unity… that’s all been true and very necessary! AND a good strong heart helps make both anniversaries keep on going!
Do churches really condone going around dressed up like ghosts, witches, monsters, devils, and all sorts of evil characters? Is it another case of “if you can’t beat’em, join’em?” Are churches simply compromising with the world in order to attract a crowd?
Maybe. But then, maybe not. I can’t speak for all churches. For that matter, not everything that calls itself a church is in fact really a church. All I can really speak for is my church and those I’ve heard from personally on the subject. And we are NOT interested in Halloween! That’s right – we are NOT interested in Halloween!
However, the kids in our neighborhood are. Their parents and grandparents are, too! And WE are interested in THEM! They need to hear that God loves them and so do we. They need to know that in a world filled with hate, fear, and harm, there are those of us who still provide love, peace, and safety!
We don’t think that hiding inside our churches and ignoring the world teaches that. So, we line our parking lot with cars and vans filled with goodies and prizes in a fun and safe environment and invite them to come and enjoy! Poor kids get more candy than they can afford. They learn there is no difference between them and those who “have’ already. They learn the truth about God’s love, that it is given unconditionally to all who will just reach out receive it. They learn that you don’t earn love, it is just offered. They learn that our church people care about them and that they are welcome at our place. They are invited to come back and learn even more.
That all sounds like good stuff to me – not evil. It does NOT sound like we even condone the evil. It is all around us. We can’t ignore it. We must not hide from it. We don’t approve of it. We shun it. We will fight it when we can. But sometimes we fight it by just out-playing it. We overcome it with good. The only way to dispel darkness is to shine light. That’s what we do. And the world sees that with us, there are no tricks – just treats! And so it is with the God we serve!